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Hierarchy of Consumer Social Needs

robert | September 26, 2011  ‐  2 Comments

In a shameless gaming of social media I’m going to start with my key graphic. If you read nothing else, this is what you need to know:

Figure 1: Hierarchy of Consumer Social Needs

Hierarchy of Consumer Social Needs

Figure 1 presents my Hierarchy of Consumer Social Needs. Just as in real life, our immediate instincts focus on ourselves – satisfying our need for satisfaction through direct experience of the product. But as we grow and the relationship with the brand increases, so the focus expands to encompass the needs of the community. Of course, in connecting with the community we fulfill personal needs – that’s why we do it – but they are the higher needs as explained by Maslow. The take-away from Figure 1 is the brand has to satisfy the basic consumer needs before they can engage on higher needs or, put another way, if you’re already satisfying the foundation needs the brand should provide a mechanism to satisfy the higher needs.

So what’s the basis for this? At the end of this post is a great presentation full of important stats on social media around the world. For us, as an audience engagement company working on several brand experiences, the top ten re-affirmations we find in the report are:

  1. offline brand experiences are the main online conversation starters
  2. people are more like (61%) to share positive experiences than negative (46%)
  3. when going online most people want to connect with others who have had positive experiences
  4. more than 50% of people are connected to brands (more likely to be women under 34). Unsurprisingly this is skewed towards entertainment & media brands but fashion/luxury (45%) and food & retail (43%).
  5. following a brand more like to happen (46%) after brand usage (next reason is after recommendation at 29%)
  6. most likely reason to follow is for direct personal benefit like product info, promotions & events
  7. consumers most likely to react to brand update then start a new conversation
  8. 36% of people posted content about a brand
  9. 44% of people want to co-create products and advertising
  10. consumers prefer email over social networks to ask a brand questions

This data supports our integrated transmedia storytelling philosophy (shown in Figure 2):

  • online content strategy designed to create conversations and promote real-world events
  • offline event strategy designed to create online conversation and facilitate product trial

Figure 2: Symbiotic Content Strategy (Online & Offline)

Symbiotic Content Strategy

The foundations for this content strategy is a great product. As the data tells us: Consumers want brands to communicate through their product. I’ve said this to many indie filmmakers who worry that they have to spend a lot of time talking about themselves or the creative process in order to bond with fans. Sure, some are interested in peeking behind the curtain but the surest way to build an audience is to keep creating good stuff.

Oh yeah, here’s that awesome presentation stacked with data: